The COVID-19 pandemic has been met with unparalleled government fiscal action and mass public mobilization. This paper by Peter Loewen and others for the Journal of Experimental Political Science investigates that action and mobilization, noting that while citizens participated in a massive social coordination effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, governments around the world engaged in large-scale stimulus spending that far outstripped what was spent during, and in the aftermath of, the 2008 financial crisis. These spending measures have been implemented at great cost and with a much-needed urgency. And yet, we have limited knowledge of the types of financial transfers with broad public support. Critical to developing this understanding is research into perceptions of deservingness which underline social welfare policy preferences and political decisions (Petersen 2012). Existing literature suggests that discriminatory attitudes, a ‘hierarchy of deservingness’, and similarity concerns are likely to drive these policy preferences, but the authors find that during a society- level crisis such as COVID-19 these normal patterns are laid aside in favour of a more universal and collectivist set of preferences. This universal generosity is particularly strong for COVID-19 financial relief, indicating support for universal redistribution during crisis times.

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